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Only CBS IDs Kagan as on Left; Others Tout Her as 'Powerhouse,' 'Accomplished Poker Player, Opera Lover' Who 'Loves Softball'

In quite a contrast to the immediate tagging of the Bush and Obama Supreme Court nominees as "conservative" (and that includes Sonya Sotomayor), on Monday night ABC and NBC refrained from applying any ideological description to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan while CBS snuck in one. CBS's Jan Crawford declared "her career has put her solidly on the left," but contended "she will have significant conservative support among academics and lawyers" and warned "that support alarms some liberals."

Amongst the non-ideological superlatives: ABC's Diane Sawyer trumpeted the "historic nomination" of the "five foot three inch powerhouse," CBS's Crawford insisted "her interests reflect her openness. She loves softball and poker" (poker reflects "openness"?) and NBC's Pete Williams hailed her as an "accomplished poker player, opera lover."

ABC, CBS and NBC all highlighted Kagan's high school yearbook picture of her in a robe and holding a gavel (ABC's Moran: "Even in high school, check out her yearbook photo here, she had her sights set on the high court"), but none pointed out the explicitly very liberal polemical points she made just a year or two later, nor did CNN's The Situation Room.

As FNC's Shannon Bream pointed out on Special Report, in The Daily Princetonian, Kagan lamented "the success of those she called, quote, 'anonymous but Moral Majority-backed avengers of innocent life.' Kagan also said she looked forward to a time when a, quote, 'more leftist left will once again come to the fore.'" The MSM didn't have to rely on FNC for Kagan's record.

A New York Times story posted Monday afternoon reported Kagan campaigned for left wing Democrat Liz Holtzman and quoted Kagan, also from the Princeton student newspaper, as denouncing then-incoming U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, who beat Holtzman, as "an ultraconservative" as she fretted the supposed demise of "real Democrats - not the closet Republicans that one sees so often these days but men and women committed to liberal principles and motivated by the ideal of an affirmative and compassionate government."

Comparisons to past nominees:

Flashback to Flashback: Nets Were Quick to Tag Alito and Roberts as 'Ultra' and 'Hardline' 'Conservatives'

Sotomayor Flashback #1 of 3: On First Night She Prompted More 'Conservative' Than 'Liberal' Labels

Sotomayor Flashback #2 of 3: On 2nd Night, CBS Decided Sotomayor No Liberal: 'Can't Be Easily Defined by Political Labels'

Sotomayor Flashback #3 of 3: Cloaked as 'Both Sides,' Nets Pushed 'Abortion Rights' Advocates' Concerns

As close as the networks skated to ideological labeling in their Monday night, May 10 stories:

Terry Moran, on ABC's World News:

....She was a gifted student at public schools in New York, then Princeton undergrad, Oxford post-grad and Harvard law. Even in high school, check out her yearbook photo here, she had her sights set on the high court....

At Harvard she outraged conservatives by leading the fight to keep the schools ban on military recruiters on campus in protest of the Pentagon's don't ask/don't tell policy, but she hired conservatives to teach at liberal Harvard too....

Jan Crawford, who had Kagan as a professor at the University of Chicago law school, on the CBS Evening News:

....In high school, Kagan was a leader, serving as student council president. She left no doubt about her wishes to become a judge.... She clerked on the Supreme Court for liberal giant Thurgood Marshall. She has called him her hero....

The President said he tapped Kagen for her 'keen intellect,' her leadership skills and her ability to build consensus. Her interests reflect her openness. She loves softball and poker. Obama first met Kagan when they were both professors at the University of Chicago law school. As dean at Harvard, she won approval from conservatives by hiring bright young scholars like Jack Goldsmith, a top official in the Bush administration....

Her career has put her solidly on the left. She worked as a lawyer in the Clinton White House, but she will have significant conservative support among academics and lawyers. Michael McConnell was a leading conservative judge.

McCONNELL: Most lawyers of conservative bent as well as moderates or liberals will see this as an outstanding appointment.

That support alarms some liberals who worry she is weak on issues of executive power and the war on terror and hasn't been forceful enough in her positions on the court....

Pete Williams on the NBC Nightly News:

....Judging from her high school yearbook, she had early aspirations to wield a gavel. Classmates say she was a standout in a school of over-achievers....

After Princeton and Harvard law school, she clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall who called her Shorty. For most of the 1990s, she taught law at the University of Chicago where she met a young Barack Obama, a part time faculty member. She served President Clinton as a lawyer and policy adviser and later became the first woman dean of Harvard law. She diversified the faculty, hiring prominent conservatives. But her tenure included controversy. She enforced a long-standing anti-discrimination policy, blocking military recruiters from the law school because of the Pentagon's ban on gays in the military....

Accomplished poker player, opera lover....

From FNC's Special Report with Bret Baier:

SHANNON BREAM: ...Though she lacks a paper trail of legal opinions, as far back as her college days Kagan has left behind other writings, like her senior thesis from Princeton which focused on the socialist movement of the early 20th century. She called its demise, quote, "a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America."

DOUG KENDALL, CONSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CENTER: I think what she was doing was writing a college thesis about a social movement, and not endorsing or opposing that movement at that point.

BREAM: Indeed the professor who oversaw Kagan's research for that thesis calls her, quote, "the furthest thing from a socialist." Also while at Princeton, Kagan wrote an opinion piece for the student newspaper saying she, quote, "absorbed liberal principles early," and went on to lament the success of those she called, quote, "anonymous but moral majority-backed avengers of innocent life." Kagan also said she looked forward to a time when a, quote, "more leftist left will once again come to the fore."...

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.